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Milton Academy Curbs Invasive Purple Loosestrife With Beetles

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“When I think about a world where climate issues and the environment are so often neglected, I feel fortunate to be able to learn about what I can do,” Dorje Dixey told The Bluedot Institute. “There is nothing better than going into the field to understand the power of nature.” In this note to The Bluedot Institute, Dorje outlines a study he helped conduct in one of his favorite classes at Milton Academy.

Purple Loosestrife, a beautiful purple flowering plant, is an invasive that can take over and crowd out indigenous plants in wetlands. 

Milton Academy has been doing a long-term study to see if the introduction of particular beetles, the G. pusilla and G. calmariensis, can lead to a decrease in Purple Loosestrife growth. 

In a wetland plot designated for the study, five quadrants of one square meter were marked out, and Cattail and Loosestrife heights, stem numbers, and flower numbers were measured for each quadrant. The overall results of this experiment showed a reduction in Purple Loosestrife growth with no change in Cattail growth. So the beetles seemed to be doing their job. Further studies are needed to be sure this decrease occurred due to the addition of the beetles, rather than other conflating factors, but the results were impressive. The right kind of intervention can help keep nature in balance.

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Dorje Dixey
Dorje Dixey
Dorje Dixey is a freshman at Tulane University. While at Milton Academy he enjoyed leadership roles as dorm monitor as a board member of the school Economics Club, and he played on the Boys Varsity Basketball team.

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